Preps Talk

Liriano will provide a lift for White Sox rotation

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Liriano will provide a lift for White Sox rotation

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Francisco Liriano brings much-needed flexibility to a young starting rotation when he joins the White Sox in Minneapolis on Monday.

Liriano, who was acquired late Saturday for Eduardo Escobar and minor-league pitcher Pedro Hernandez, will make his White Sox debut against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday. His addition affords the White Sox the chance to use a six-man rotation -- for now -- at a time when first-year starter Chris Sale is battling fatigue.

If the White Sox had stayed on schedule, Sales next start would have fallen on Wednesday. But manager Robin Ventura said Sunday it remains to be determined when Sale returns to the mound though he is a candidate to go Friday.

Rookie Jose Quintana will pitch Monday at Minnesota and Jake Peavy will follow Liriano on Wednesday.

Our guys have been going at it full-tilt since beginning of season, general manager Kenny Williams said on a conference call Sunday. Weve done that with largely a young contingent of pitchers. We felt we needed some guys that had a veteran presence about them, that had pitched through the most difficult months of August and September, and can weather some of these storms mentally and physically.

Williams has long sought an additional arm and was diligent in his pursuit of Zack Greinke before the Milwaukee Brewers traded him to the Angels on Friday. With John Danks return uncertain -- though Williams said a potential surgery is the worst-case scenario -- Sale fatigued and Quintana nearing his career high for innings pitched, Williams knew a move was needed.

Though Liriano has struggled this season, he appears to have turned a corner. Liriano, who has a 3.66 ERA in his last 11 starts, believes he put too much pressure on himself earlier this season because of his impending free agency.

I feel like Im more complete than I was before, Liriano said. I was walking a lot of guys at the beginning of the season, getting behind in the count. Now Im going out there and having fun and being more consistent.

Ventura said Sale remains a candidate to start Friday, but hes hardly automatic.

It depends on how he feels, Ventura said. With getting Liriano, theres a chance to push him back a bit and giving him a little more rest in between starts, so it is a possibility.

Williams said now has the opportunity to push both Quintana and Sale back one to two days or skip them entirely when needed.

Sale, who is 20 13 innings away from the most he has ever thrown in a season (144 13 in 2009), believes hes only fatigued. The left-hander won his start in Texas on Friday even though he only threw 37 fastballs in 109 pitches. Sale believes he will benefit from the addition of Liriano.

Going through a little dead-arm period I guess, Sale said. Nothing terrible, nothing anyone else doesnt go through. We all feel this is something thats going to benefit us and benefit myself, a few extra days off so the next couple months we can make a push and get after it.

The White Sox are off twice -- Aug. 2 and 9 -- before they begin a stretch of 13 straight games and have five off-days left this season. After Aug. 9 the team has stretches of 13, 13, 10 and 16 straight games in between off-days.

Ventura said hes OK with a six-man rotation for now, but would like to cut it to five in September.

It helps everyone, pitching coach Don Cooper said. Because once these off-days are done, were going to be going.

Illinois AP football rankings: Week 8

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NBC Sports Chicago

Illinois AP football rankings: Week 8

The Illlinois high school football AP polls are out. Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

Class 8A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lincoln-Way East (8) 8-0 80 1
2. Loyola 6-2 66 2
3. Warren 8-0 59 3
4. Homewood-Flossmoor 7-1 54 5
5.  Neuqua Valley 7-1 52 T-6
6. Minooka 8-0 36 8
7.  Niles Notre Dame 7-1 35 4
8. Oswego 8-0 24 9
9. Hinsdale Central 7-1 19 T-6
10. Bolingbrook 6-2 5 10

Others receiving votes: South Elgin 4, Maine South 3, Edwardsville 1, Huntley 1, St. Charles East 1.

Class 7A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. (Chicago) Mt. Carmel (7) 8-0 79 1
2. Nazareth (1) 8-0 69 2
3. Glenbard West 8-0 67 3
4.  Hersey 8-0 49 4
5.  Phillips 7-1 47 5
6. Batavia 6-2 37 7
7.  Rolling Meadows 8-0 34 6
8. Willowbrook 7-1 27 9
9. Normal Community 7-1 21 10
10. Benet 6-2 4 8

Others receiving votes: Glenbard East 4, DeKalb 1, Maine West 1.

Class 6A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Chatham Glenwood (7) 8-0 79 1
2.  Crete-Monee (1) 8-0 71 2
3.  Simeon 6-1 62 3
T-4. Prairie Ridge 7-1 54 6
T-4. Richards 7-1 54 5
6. Antioch 7-1 31 7
7. Providence  6-2 30 8
8. Cary-Grove 6-2 19 4
9. Normal West 6-2 17 NR
10.  Peoria Central 7-1 10 NR


Others receiving votes: Lemont 8, Yorkville 3, Kaneland 2.

Class 5A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. East St. Louis (9) 8-0 90 1
2. Sterling 8-0 77 2
3.  Hillcrest 7-1 68 T-3
4.  Boylan Catholic 8-0 60 T-3
5.  Montini 6-2 51 5
6.  Sycamore 7-1 43 6
7. St. Rita 5-3 35 8
8. Kankakee 7-1 24 9
9.  Carbondale 7-1 20 10
10.  Dunlap 7-1 12 NR

Others receiving votes: Cahokia 7, Joliet Catholic 6, Marion 2.

Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Rochester (7) 8-0 88 2
2. Coal City (2) 8-0 82 3
3. Richmond-Burton 8-0 58 4
4. St. Francis 7-1 52 10
5. IC Catholic Prep 7-1 51 1
6.  Mt. Zion 8-0 49 6
7.  Stillman Valley 8-0 48 5
8. Columbia 8-0 30 8
9. Illinois Valley Central 8-0 15 NR
10.  Effingham 7-1 7 7

Others receiving votes: Tolono Unity 6, Murphysboro 4, Bishop McNamara 2, Prairie Central 2, Genoa-Kingston 1.

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Williamsville (7) 8-0 97 2
2. Byron (1) 7-1 87 3
T-3. Wilmington (1) 7-1 69 1
T-3. Beardstown (1) 8-0 69 4
5. Vandalia 8-0 65 5
6. Fairfield 8-0 54 7
7. Princeton 7-1 37 9
8. DuQuoin 8-0 32 NR
9. Breese Mater Dei 7-1 14 NR
10. Pana 7-1 12 8

Others receiving votes: Nashville 9, Mt. Carmel 4, Eureka 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Fieldcrest (6) 8-0 95 1
2. Clifton Central (3) 8-0 92 2
3. Maroa-Forsyth 7-1 78 3
4. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (1) 7-1 73 4
5.  St. Teresa 7-1 62 5
6.  Knoxville 8-0 50 6
7. Newman Central Catholic 7-1 38 7
8. Bismarck-Henning 7-1 32 8
9. Auburn 6-2 20 9
10. Flora 6-2 7 NR

Others receiving votes: Chester 3.

Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lena-Winslow (9) 8-0 90 1
2.  Moweaqua Central A&M 8-0 79 2
3. Annawan-Wethersfield 8-0 68 3
4.  Morrison 8-0 55 4
5.  Aquin 8-0 53 7
6. Hope Academy 7-1 45 8
7. Camp Point Central 7-1 31 9
8. Forreston 6-2 20 6
9. Athens 6-2 15 10
10. Carrollton 7-1 14 NR

Others receiving votes: Greenfield-Northwestern 9, Kirkland Hiawatha 5, Tuscola 4, Ottawa Marquette 3, Arcola 2, Argenta-Oreana 2.

A peek behind the curtain at what makes Joe Espada such an intriguing managerial candidate for Cubs

A peek behind the curtain at what makes Joe Espada such an intriguing managerial candidate for Cubs

As the Cubs managerial search continues, the Astros are vying for their second World Series championship in a three-year span.

Coincidentally, the man leading Houston once envisioned himself doing the same thing on the North Side of Chicago. It’s strange how baseball works sometimes. 

A.J. Hinch — who interviewed for the Cubs managerial job in 2013 — was disappointed when Theo Epstein and Co. chose Rick Renteria to take the reins of the club instead, especially given his managerial experience. But then again, Hinch recognizes he still could have been pushed out a year later for Joe Maddon the same way Renteria was. So, maybe things did work out best for everyone.

Between that history and Hinch's time with Jed Hoyer in San Diego, it explains why Hinch knows a thing or two about what the Cubs brass is looking for in their next manager and the process they are taking to find the right guy to steer the ship.

That guy might end up being Hinch’s current bench coach Joe Espada, who had a second interview with Epstein's front office this week.

“Joe and I were Triple-A roommates back in Oakland,” Hinch said. “I tried to hire him in Arizona as a first- or third-base coach when I became manager in Arizona and he immediately got promoted to the Marlins coaching staff. So when he was with the Yankees and we eliminated them in the ALCS in 2017, Cora was just about to be named the manager of Red Sox. I immediately asked for permission to speak to Joe and he was my choice; he was my hand-picked guy [to take over as Astros bench coach] immediately.”

And it appears, Espada will soon become someone else’s “hand-picked guy” to manage.

Will that be with the Cubs?

“He’s a well-rounded baseball man,” Hinch said. “He’s been in a few places and so he’s seen and done virtually everything to prepare himself to manage. From coaching in Miami to being with the Yankees on successful teams, to being a bench coach here. He’s been around decision-making, he’s been around high end winning and he’s intellectually curious.” 

Besides his coaching resume, Espada is thought to bring other innate characteristics to the table that would appeal to any organization. The Cubs liked what they saw and heard enough to bring him in for a second interview, which was no surprise to Hinch.

“He’s organized, diligent, he’s very fair to people, he’s a good family man.” Hinch said. “All attributes that help you build something in the clubhouse that ultimately leads to winning. The only thing untested in him is managing. And any time you talk about someone without managerial experience, I think you’re just going to have to learn on the job, period. There’s been plenty of examples of guys that have done it and Joe is really good. The potential could be very quick for him. A lot of teams have asked about him.” 

Naturally, the same could be said for David Ross, a candidate Hinch also spoke highly about.

“I think he’d be really good," the Astros manager said of Ross. "If he’s all in, I’ll love it because I think he could learn quickly. He’s got immediate credibility. I think the player buy-in is there and it would be interesting to build a staff around him.”

The intrigue will continue to grow in what now seems to be a two-horse race, but with the World Series getting underway the Cubs will likely wait for an off day or the conclusion of the Fall Classic to make an announcement. And even though their team isn’t playing, Cubs fans can still keep an eye on Espada as well as former Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez as the Astros and Nationals take center stage in the baseball world.